Books I've read

Sandra's book montage

The Catcher in the Rye
The Great Gatsby
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Romeo and Juliet
Lord of the Flies
Little Women
A Tale of Two Cities
Memoirs of a Geisha
The Lovely Bones
The Secret Life of Bees
Under the Tuscan Sun
The Da Vinci Code
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The Hobbit
The Golden Compass
Pride and Prejudice
The Time Traveler's Wife
Jane Eyre
The Notebook

Sandra's favorite books »

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Heavenly Things

On Thursday I went to the British Museum to see a friend tell some more stories.  One of their major
exhibitions is called Treasures from Heaven and so she was telling stories of saints, pilgrims and miracles.  The room she had to use was awful - a through way with lots of noise but she still did a brilliant job.  The kids got to sit on a kind of 'magic carpet' at the front and it was wonderful to see their faces as she spun her tales of dragons, St. George, gold and other stories.  She will be there every Thursday during the summer holidays so if you have a young child that likes that sort of story it would be a great place to go.  There were other activities going on in the Great Court to do with the exhibition such as making pilgrim badges so it could be a good escape for a couple of hours and, of course, there are always the mummies.

I must admit the British Museum is probably my least favourite of the 'big' London museums - don't really know why.  I saw a brilliant Cartier exhibition there once and they do have some amazing things but it's just not somewhere I think 'Oh yes, I'd like to go there'.  But as T rightly pointed out to me, I had just done a course on the Greeks and Romans so I wandered through those galleries.  They were very busy with tourists (great for the museum) but I did see some things I thought might be interesting so I'll try and go back on a drab November morning when it should be a lot easier to look around.  I wanted to look in the Reading Room  but they have been using it for the Treasures of Heaven exhibition so I
just in fact climbed the stairs went around it and came back down the other side.  In this picture you can see the reading room on the right, the staircase and the roof of the Great Court.  Thursday was hot and humid in London and, of course, the Great Court acts as a big greenhouse so not very pleasant to be tramping around in there.

After that I went back over to the City to meet some friends and attend a leaving 'do'.  It was really hard to realise that I left work seven weeks ago.  Talking to people you realise how little things really change, people come and go but organisations don't change much other than in real upheavals such as mergers.  It was so lovely to see them and hear their news (some very exciting indeed!) and also to chat to people whilst waiting in reception.  Did it feel strange to be back in the building - not really.  I'm not sure if I felt that it was part of my life at all so that's got to be a good thing, right?  Anyway we went to this restaurant off Borough High Street whose main features was a 'Frank Sinatra' character - whilst I don't think our 'Frank' will be playing Las Vegas any time soon it was just lovely to be with them all again!

It's killing me waiting for my results for my Myth course.  I have to get at least 40% in my End of Module Assessment (or big essay) and if I can achieve that the degree is passed and I'm off to King's.  I have started to try and think of options in case I don't achieve this - I suppose I could try and do the OU MA (which I really am not that keen on) with my existing degree but it would take 2 years and throw everything out.  We should get results this week so please keep your fingers crossed for me.

I'll do a book update in a few days time.  I have finished the Evelyn Waugh biography and am currently reading Forty Rules of Love so I'll let you know how they both go.

Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The Privileged and The Damned

I wanted to share another book review with you.

As with Palladio I really enjoyed this book.
Cynthia and Adam are a young couple who get married and we follow that marriage until their children, April and Jonas, are of college age.  At that time Adam and Cynthia are fabulously wealthy; Adam runs a hedge fund and they have a foundation that does good work.  Jonas is studying Art History at college (art seems to be a bit of a theme with Dee) and April is 'enjoying'the lifestyle of a New York trustafarian.
I liked Adam and Cynthia, to the extent that I stopped reading the book for a time as I thought something awful was going to happen to Adam, but I don't really believe that you should.  Adam does some illegal things and both have little idea of loyalty to anyone beyond themselves and their children (and Cynthia's father).  I think it is the love for each other that redeems them.  The back of the novel calls it an 'epic love'.  I'm not sure I was persuaded of that but they clearly love each other greatly and are redeemed by their desire to put their money to good use
It's enjoyable to have a peek into the world of the super-rich but as with Palladio I feel slightly bemused why I liked the book so much.  I will probably read more Jonathan Dee so perhaps I'll understand better in the future.  

At the moment I'm reading a book about Evelyn Waugh and the Lygon family of Madresfield who were the models for the Flytes in Brideshead Revisited.  It's really interesting and I have been amazed by how much of Brideshead he took from his/their lives including Charles's reaction to the chapel at Brideshead Castle.  When I've finished it I'll let you know more about it.

Are you interested in the Salem Witch Trials?  I am but in a very cowardly way i.e. when I've visited Salem (in Massachusetts) I've never been to any of the witch related sites and you'll be delighted to know that means I don't have any witchy pictures.  I'll use a Hallowe'en picture from Salem instead (to cheer up the blog - I know, any excuse!)  Anyway the point of this was that last night, on National Geographic Channel,
there was a programme about the trials, or 'crisis' as they were describing it.  The 'host' of the programme was someone called Katherine Howe.  I've had her novel, The Lost Book of Salem, on my bookshelves for a while now - long enough for it to have been re-issued.  I'm planning to read in the next few weeks/months and will share my thoughts with you but the programme was very interesting and suggested a new theory for the cause of the 'crisis'.  I won't say what in-case you want to see the programme (it's being repeated in the UK and I think will be on in the US in the autumn).  Howe was inspired to research/write about the trials because of a personal connection to the tragedy and also because she was living in Marblehead.  If you page back through the blog you'll see some of my pictures of historic houses there and I think you can understand how she got so attracted to the past. 

The picture above is from outside a B&B from October 2006.  Salem goes all out for 'Haunted Happenings' right through October  but there are also interesting maritime and literature associations that
make it worth visiting.  This is the House of Seven Gables and inspired the book by Nathaniel Hawthorne (who added the 'w' to his name to try and disassociate himself from one of the witch trial judges).  It's an interesting place to visit but would be very spooky at night I think.  Salem is accessible from Boston by Amtrak or ferry and if you had a car you could combine with a trip to Marblehead.  There is a trolley service which takes you round the main sites (including the Peabody Essex Museum which is well worth a visit).  By the way, the witch trials themselves took place in Salem Village which is now the town of Danvers.  As I'm too chicken to go in any of the witch museums in Salem you won't be surprised to know I haven't made it there yet.

Well, that's more than enough of my waffle so, thanks for reading.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Books update

I've started my reading for Kings (hopefully not jinxing anything) so not reading as many novels as I would like but I do have a quick update to share with you:

This is my third Kristin Gore book and I very much enjoyed it.

Unlike Sammy's Hill and Sammy's House there isn't so much humour in this book but Gore still creates characters that it's easy to like. Although the story takes place in the present day in a small town in Mississippi the story is based on two murders in 1966 which remain unsolved.

Jiminy Davis needs a break from her life in Chicago and on a whim decideds to visit her grandmother in Fayeville. There she meets Bo Waters, the nephew of her grandmother's housekeeper, Lyn and they have to decide whether to try and pursue a relationship in a disapproving town. In addition Jiminy learns that Lyn's husband and daughter's murders have never been investigated. Jiminy contacts a lawyer known for success in solving 'cold' civil-rights cases and starts to investigate.

The novel explores race relations in Fayeville in both the 1960s and the present day and the message isn't all reassuring. Possibly the ending is a little contrived but the story is well written and engrossing and so I will forgive Gore for tying up all the endings so neatly.

I look forward to her next novel, just hoping it is a little longer.

I've got a few more that I will share as the week goes on.

Thanks for reading

Friday, 22 July 2011


First of all a massive thank you to everyone who has looked at this blog - it is now at over 500 page views, yay!

Yesterday I went to the National Gallery in London to see my old (as in past, not age you understand) 'Children's Literature' tutor telling stories.  She is a storyteller for adults but I had never been able to make one of her performances before.  The National Gallery puts these story-telling events on about every two months and ask an artist to choose a picture that inspires them.  In this case we found ourselves in room 46 in front of Degas' 'Inside the Girl Inside the Study'.  I must admit I thought the story/stories would be about the painting but my tutor had picked up on the fact that Degas painted out the girl's engagement ring and use this as a basis to tell us stories of Egyptian gods, Chinese merchants and a magical coat and shoes.  It was wonderful.  I really don't know how she performed alone for fifty minutes telling us stories and enhancing them with exotic musical instruments.  She does quite a lot of performances around London and I'm hoping to see her next week at the British Museum - if you can catch it try and do so!

I thought that stories would be a good theme for this blog.  After all the National Gallery tells a story itself, of Britain's imperial and cultural power - at least that's what it would have been built to say.  I love the National Gallery but probably not in July when it is really busy.  Unfortunately I didn't have time to look around as I was going back to the City to meet a couple of friends for more stories!  I did spend 5 minutes outside taking a few pictures (what a surprise!) to share.  Let's see if I can link them all to stories?
What a great ship in a bottle on the fourth plinth!  This conjured up stories of pirates and adventurers of days long ago sailing the high seas - 'Avast me hearties!'  (Or something along those lines) 
This is the Olympic clock (maybe there are others?) which tells the story of all the hopes and hard-work that are required before the Opening Ceremony next year.

'Living Art' outside the National Gallery - as this grows it will create a Monet painting in plants.  But really I think the story is about cleverly covering some restoration work.

After the National Gallery I headed back to the City to meet a couple of friends and share stories of my old workplace.   It was so lovely to see them both and gossip about what is happening, even if it is a tough world at the moment for everyone!  It's also amazing how little things have seemed to change in the time since I was there.  We talked about more pleasant things as well of course - books and TS Eliot and we had really delicious cakes so that was a result!

I have done some reading over the last week so I'll share my latest book reviews with you over the weekend.

Thank you for reading

Sunday, 17 July 2011

From Giddy to Hot

I have just returned from the T.S. Eliot International Summer School.  Now, bear in my that I have written half an essay on Eliot & 'The Love Song of J Arthur Prufrock' and that I have spent 9 days in the company of world-class Eliot scholars who have been studying him for decades and I think you can understand that there have been moments (OK, maybe days) when I have felt like the most stupid person on earth!.

The week was, however, really good and, if I arriving knowing very little, I left feeling a lot more knowledgeable and with the concern that I really must read every book in the world before the middle of September.   

We started the Summer School on 9 July (my birthday, thank you for the messages) and T and I stayed over-night at the Holiday Inn, Bloomsbury which was nice.  The school started with a welcome address and reading from Simon Armitage and then thanks to those providing bursaries.  They needed names for the bursaries so some are called after characters from Cats - how wonderful to have the Old Possum Busary!!   Then it was time for a reception at which I stood looking stupid and lonely on the side until a very nice lady came & rescued me!  Back to meet T and birthday dinner at Carluccio's which was delicious and incredibly reasonable - highly recommended.

The reason for staying over was a 9 a.m. start for our excursion to Little Gidding in Cambridgeshire.  Eliot writes a poem about Little Gidding in Four Quartets and this provided us with the excuse to look around, hear Simon Armitage read the poem and listen to a lecture from a Harvard professor.  We were incredibly lucky with the weather, it was beautiful whilst we walked around and then poured down whilst we were inside the marquee.  I cannot describe to you just how beautiful this little hamlet is.  Eliot talks about 'unattended moments' of spirituality and it is really easy to understand how he could have felt like this in a place that is so quintessentially English:

                                 Here the intersection of the timeless moment
                                 Is England and nowhere.  Never and always.

He was writing this in 1942, in the middle of the war, so it is easy to imagine just how afraid he might have been that this England would be destroyed.  I have some photos to share with you of the church at Little Gidding and the countryside:

We had an incredibly busy week including 2 lectures every morning, a seminar each afternoon and some evening activities.  On Monday night we went to an art gallery just off Regent Street to see artists' responses to the Four Quartets (I didn't buy anything) and on Friday night we went to a reception at The London Library to listen to the poet Craig Raines and to have a look around.  This was a bit difficult for me because I would love to be a member but it's a subscription library and the fee is over £400 a year which is a lot for a prospective student.  I will try and apply for one of their Carlyle memberships in the autumn which allows for reduced fees for the deserving (hmmm - not sure I count on that score).

The final evening event I (sort of) participated in was a walk around the City.  Eliot used to work for Lloyds Bank in Cornhill and included the 'unreal City' and the people who 'flowed over London Bridge' in The Waste Land.  I attended the first part of the walk including going inside St Magnus Martyr (which is in Lower Thames Street) and is an amazing church, very 'high'!  Did you know that at one time there was a chapel to St Thomas a Beckett standing in the middle of the Thames?  St Magnus has a relic of St Thomas and a few days before had taken it onto the centre of London Bridge to venerate it.  I must say there is a whole world out there that you just don't see shut up in an office.  We went down to the Thames level, some people right down to the river itself but then we were too close to London Bridge station for me to fancy walking up to the Royal Exchange again so I ducked out there.  I had walked past St Magnus almost every weekday evening for at least 11 years and never thought about going in - shame on me!

I finished the Summer School with another excursion yesterday.  We went to Burnt Norton, another place naming a poem in Four Quartets.  This was even more beautiful than Little Gidding and whilst it took us three hours each way it was most definitely worth it.  We were even luckier with the weather, the heavens opened whilst we were on the motorway but whilst we were eating our picnic lunches and taking our walk around the estate it was glorious sunshine.  Our walk, as a friend from the school (and an extremely wise & well-read lady) pointed out, was like something out of Mansfield Park as we split into small groups of two and three on a rotational basis having the most pleasant and pleasurable conversation and, even if no-one fell in love with a man of large fortune, it was still a wonderful way to spend an hour.   We had another poetry reading and lecture about the poem but I think the high point was when the owner, the Countess of Harrowby, told us the story of Burnt Norton.  As you might expect there was a woman & money involved, but I shan't tell you more as she is hoping to have the story published next year and this way you may be tempted to buy - it is a great story!

So, as you would expect, a few photographs from Burnt Norton:

Just like something from Mansfield Park

The carriage house which has been converted into a centre for the literary arts

All in all this was an amazing week spent with really lovely people and if you are at all interested in TS Eliot
I would suggest you look out for the 2012 Summer School!

As you might expect I haven't read much this week other than for the school so I hope you will forgive that.  I need to get into reading for King's now, as well as all the stuff that the summer school has made me realise I need to read, so I will keep you updated on that and the novels I read for light relief.  I started A Summer Without Men this morning and, whilst only 30 pages in, it seems really promising.  There's quite a bit of poetry in that as well.

Thanks for reading and good luck if you need to flow over London Bridge this week!  I will be on Thursday to meet up with some friends so I'll try and think about Eliot's lines as I cross.

Friday, 8 July 2011

A very short post (technical problems permitting)

Last week I went to see The Cult of Beauty at the Victoria and Albert museum.  Aestheticism was all the rage in the late 19th century in literature and art.  Oscar Wilde was one of the main proponents in British literature and there are examples of his work in the exhibition and also some cartoons which made fun of aesthetes. The aesthetic movement believed that art should primarily be beautiful and not seek to influence its audience in any way (the opposite of propoganda).  The reason I went to the exhibition was obviously that it fits into the time-scale of my (fingers-crossed) MA and also because the first module of the OUs 20th Century Literature course is Aestheticism & Modernism so it's useful to see some of the ideas from that brought to life.  Unfortunately the exhibition closes on Sunday but if you do have a chance and are at all interested do try and see it - they had some beautiful Edward Burne-Jones paintings, and a sort of diorama of Whistler's Peacock Room which is actually at the Freer Gallery in Washington.  It wasn't too big, about 4 rooms and had a lovely mixture of art, furniture, costumes and jewellery.

I also went to see Michael Cunningham (The Hours) speak.  The sound in the room wasn't great but he was really interesting.  One of the things he said that I found reassuring (bearing in mind what I want to do) is that his imagery is often intuitive, he doesn't know what he is doing or why but then he likes it when an academic or critic suggests to him the reason they think he has used that imagery & to him that then makes sense.  He believes that writing a novel is an intrinsically optimistic task - you are hopeful of publishing & being read.  I don't know if he believes that novels should influence people, I probably should have asked him.

So, whilst we're on the subject and I'm still pretty much reading for pleasure here is an update:

I liked this book but I'm not really sure exactly why. It certainly made me keep reading and I was intrigued what would happen with 'Palladio'(which is a kind of advertising agency).  The characters are interesting, but I think it's hard to get to like them.  There is a kind of evil genius who brings together all of the characters to work in a new kind of advertising; Molly, our heroine, who is a really damaged person and John, the nice southern guy who was once Molly's boyfriend.  The story itself is about relationships, ideas and dreams/visions.  There is definitely humour there and a nod to pop culture/art which engages you more with the story,'yes, I know that'.  The narration is 3rd person in two sections and then John takes over for one part.  The transition is fine although I don't know that it really adds anything to have the change.  Dee has a good style and I think this book would be a good holiday read.  I'm about to read The Privileges so I'll let you know how that goes.

I'm having some problems with this post so will leave this here.  Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Some recent reading

I feel like I have done nothing but read recently - how brilliant is that?   I thought I should share my thoughts with you because some have been wonderful.

Okay - in no particular order:

I bought this because I had just finished Red Hook Road (see a bit later).  It's a story about a former public defender turned stay at home mother who is currently uneasy about her choice to stay at home and pregnant with her second child. Her child is rejected from the most prestigious pre-school in LA and the same day the principal of the school is murdered in a hit and run. Our heroine, Juliet Appelbaum, decides it wasn't an accident & starts to investigate.
It's an easy read I think.  Waldman writes well and I found Juliet to be quite endearing although her husband probably makes life a lot easier for her than he should.  This is the first in a series of 7 books and I shall certainly try the second.

I bought this on holiday, partly because I didn't want to carry her new hardback novel back in my luggage.  It's the story of four friends who graduated from Smith College and their lives in the few years after that.  I quite enjoyed it, the characters were reasonably realistic.  Sullivan includes a theme of sex-trafficking and I'm not sure that works particularly well within this book.  I'd be interested to see what you think.  The ending is a little cliched but I don't think that is too awful.  You are going to get exactly what you expect if you read this book but I don't think that is a bad thing.

This is the second Sarah Addison Allen I have read.  I wrote about The Girl Who Chased The Moon a few posts ago and raved about that.  Garden Spells is the first novel she had published and, although still magical realism, is much more realist other than a moody tree who likes to get its own way.  The Waverlys have lived in a small town in North Carolina for generations and now Claire Waverly lives in a big house and runs a catering business which takes advantage of the herbs and flowers in the garden to alter people's moods.  Claire's drifter sister Sydney returns to the town with her young daughter and, with the help of the art professor who has just moved in next door, proceeds to make Claire's life a lot less routine.  This is a lovely book, there is reference to domestic violence in Claire's life but that is dealt with (possibly a little too easily).  The characters are likeable and if you like stories set in small towns with a small amount of magical realism I think you will enjoy this.   I've just ordered another of her books, The Sugar Queen.

This was another holiday purchase.  A young couple, John and Becca, get married in a small coastal village in Maine.  John's family live there all year round but Becca's family are 'summer people'.  Then a tragedy occurs and the book covers the next few years and how the families cope.  I think that the two mothers, Jane and Iris are quite annoying, particularly Iris but Matt and Ruthie are much more likeable.  One of the pleasures of this book is, I think, the wider cast of characters.  Iris's father, a world-famous violinst who escaped the Holocaust but not it's effects is very interesting and I loved the village librarian and her wisdom.  I don't think you will be surprised by the plot but Waldman writes well and makes you care about the characters. 

I wasn't sure I would like this book or if it would be a case of 'Emperor's New Clothes' but I very much enjoyed the way Egan wrote. Each chapter is inter-connected and tells you something about a character who is in someway connected to the two many characters - it's a bit like a Venn diagramme. In one chapter the character provides us with footnotes and that reminded me of Kiss of the Spider Woman, in another the character uses power-point in a really inventive way.  Each of the chapters is almost like a short story and sometimes you are not sure who is narrating for a little while and then you can fit them into the overall 'story family' and narrative time-frame.  I found many of the characters likeable and those that weren't were either amusing or ridiculous.  She writes in an inventive way and I can't recommend this highly enough to you.

I have to tell you I loathed this book.  I found it overwritten - I won't just tell you what to think, I'll tell you three times!  I had to read this for the Modern American Novel course and I will not be reading it again.  The protagonist, Swede Levov, appears to be leading the perfect American life, but it's 1968 and his daughter has decided to rebel.  By the way that might make the book sound more exciting than it really is.  If you like Philip Roth you'll probably like this and plenty of people on my course do but I won't be looking to spend some time discussing it with you.

I read this for the Jane Austen course and it was a lot more pleasurable than American Pastoral.  This is the story of Fanny Price and how she comes to live with her relations at Mansfield Park.  Many people dislike Fanny, she's a bit of a prig,but I didn't mind her at all.  This is excellent Austen I think - most of the characters need to learn something to find happiness (or not) and there is her usual sly humour. In the background is the issue of slavery and Antigua the source of family wealth is mentioned six times which I find interesting.  I wouldn't say it's as enjoyable as Pride and Prejudice or Emma because I don't think it is as amusing as either but I think it is interesting and well worth reading if you haven't already.  And it's not just for girls!!!

I don't really know what to say to you about this book other than try and read it.  It's an amazing story about de Waal's Jewish ancestors, the Ephrussis and how they rose to prominence and riches in 19th and early 20th century Europe.  Unfortunately two branches of the family chose to make their homes in Paris and Vienna and so as the twentieth century progresses you know that it's not going to turn out well for everyone.  De Waal writes really well and makes the story about art (particularly the Netsuke collection of which the hare is a member) and people rather than dwelling upon the anti-semitism the family experiences.  This book stayed with me after I finished reading and made me think about assimilation - how it has to be a two way agreement and protection which in the case of the European Jews was clearly not the case.  Please, please try and read it - I think you will find it as affecting as I did.

Well I think that's enough for now.  I'm currently reading Palladio by Jonathan Dee so I'll update you on that shortly.

Friday, 1 July 2011

From New England to an old one

So, final episode and then it's back to books and whatever else ...

Final full day in America I went for the lazy option - an excursion.  I had done New England Sea Coast before, about 5 years ago, but wanted to go back because not only do you travel along some beautiful coast but you spend time in Kennebunkport, Maine where they have the most beautiful craft shops. 

It was lovely to just be able to get on a coach and let someone else figure out the logistics although you do have to listen to the coach-driver and whatever he (and it generally is a he) wants to talk about.  Never mind, the first part of this journey isn't that interesting you're just on the interstate but once we got to New Hampshire we turned onto the backroads and passed the sea marshes of Seabrook.  Apparently in colonial times the farmers used to let their cows graze on hay from the salt marshes and they loved it.  Ready salted beef presumably?

We stopped at a place called Hampton Beach(NH).  It's very commercialised, apparently a big hit with teenagers and not really to my taste but they do have a decent beach and we were only there for about 20 minutes so no point really complaining:

Not quite as sunny as Bay-watch!  Re-pairing the life-guard towers.

They bring this sand to Hampton Beach and then comb it every night to keep in good condition.  (Because it's worth it!)

The journey into Maine was lovely, really beautiful houses on either side of the road and an interesting, rocky coast to look at.  Our next stop was the Nubble lighthouse at Sohier Park where (hurrah) the sun came out:

This is a summer home just across the cove.  I hope they use it for more than a couple of weeks per year!

Then it was on to Kennebunkport which is a lovely and dangerous mix of restaurants, inns, nice houses and shops.  If you think you have heard of the town but don't spend your time reading guidebooks about Maine it's very possible.  George Bush Snr. has his summer place here, out at Walker's Point.  By the way in quizzes about birth-places about American presidents don't forget that both he and his son were born in New England.  I had a fabulous lobster roll at a restaurant called Alison's in Dock Square which is the centre point of the town (which is really a village), then walked around and took some pictures and finally did some shopping for a lovely glass mushroom (yes, really) and some beautiful pottery.  Just to give you an idea about Kennebunkport:

For my last night treat I went to Legal Seafoods whose motto is 'If it isn't fresh, it isn't legal'.  A bowl of lobster bisque (I know, lobster twice in one day but I don't think I ever have it in England) which was smaller and not quite so nice as from The Chart House but never mind and then a dish described something like double coated shrimp so I gave it a go.  It was basically huge prawns covered in crab-meat and breadcrumbs - it was delicious but a meal on it's own. A good way to end a lovely day!

Final day and back to the Kennedys (and please, if you're watching the series on the BBC know there is more to them than sex and pills).  I went to see JFK's birthplace, another first for me.  I had changed my itinerary round because of the weather and, cleverly, not brought the opening hours with me so I started to have a bad feeling on the T.  Finding the house was relatively easy but my feeling had been correct - it was only open Wednesday to Sunday and today was Tuesday.  Ah well, luckily there was a leaflet on the porch with a walking tour of Kennedy Brookline to follow - so I did.  Brookline was pretty nice so this was no hardship:

JFK's birthplace.

The second Brookline house the Kennedys lived in.  Robert Kennedy was born here.

The church JFK attended as a little boy.

So that was it for my holiday really.  The taxi back to the airport took about 30 minutes and it was pretty easy to get through security.  The BA first class lounge was very nice, although Henry Winkler (aka The Fonz) did take me for a BA employee as I was getting a drink from behind the bar.  But he was really nice about it.  The flight was fine, only about 5 and a half  hours.  We took off at 7.15 p.m. Boston time so I couldn't really sleep. I watched The End of The Voyage of The Dawntreader and then Indiana Jones and the Chrystal Skull (what a load of rubbish that was) because I just couldn't sleep.  Do you know they cook your breakfast to your order - I had real scrambled eggs, on a plane!  
Then we landed and all that luxury came to an end.  Still, it was a great holiday.  Can I really do without for at least 3 years, we'll see!
Thanks for staying with me - entries should get a lot shorter now.
I took the New England Seacoast tour with Grayline.  I have taken a number of their excursions over the years and they have generally been very good.  They pick you up and drop you off at the hotel and there is plenty of time to  look around.  It would be pretty easy to get to these places with a car but I think hard if you are using public transport - maybe another time I'll work it out.

Legal Seafoods have a number of locations across Boston and Cambridge.  I like the Prudential Center branch better than the Copley Place branch if you are in that area. 

To get to the JFK National Historic Site take the green line to Coolidge Corner or Brookline.  It's only about 10 minutes from the centre of Boston and one of the above ground parts of the T.  There were some coffee shops and an ice cream shop on the way if you need a break.